It was hyped first as the opening salvo of Jordan's Arab Spring, then derided for failing to flex much of an opposition muscle. What is certain: on Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), was able to gather tens of thousands of people in downtown Amman to call for a boycott of upcoming legislative elections, constituting the most serious challenge to King Abdullah's agenda in 22 months of weekly protests throughout the country.
Determining the weight of the show of discontent is a trickier matter. The gathering followed a peculiarly Jordanian etiquette: a potentially destabilizing loyalist counterprotest was suspended at the last minute, while protest organizers exercised careful message control over their chants, which prodded the king for constitutional reform rather than revolution. Borrowing the Syrian sing-song chant of “Get out, Bashar,” which cursed the president and called his brother a traitor, Jordan's protesters substituted more polite lyrics calling for King Abdullah to respond to their requests for changes to the elections law.